Goal for Accomplishing Sustainable Development Goals Requires Interconnectivity

Cranfield University academics have spoken on how attaining the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals requires an interlinked, transdisciplinary approach that looks at resilience on several levels (SDGs). 

The UNGA76 Science Summit, held in conjunction with the 76th United Nations General Assembly in New York, featured an online session sponsored by Cranfield’s Resilience Grand Challenge group. 

The SDGs reference resilience either expressly or implicitly, and a lot of the stuff I read around them addresses resilience in multiple ways. This event will provide an opportunity to debate what resilience means in the context of the SDGs and how we could approach making them more resilient. We won’t be able to deliver on SDG promises if we don’t consider resilience to future disruptions, shocks, and stressors. Focusing on resilience can help us maintain the accomplishments we’ve already made while also allowing us to consider the future and what it will take to make it more resilient in the context of the SDGs. 

Dr. Kenisha Garnett, Professor Jim Harris, Dr. Simon Harwood, and Dr. Simon Jude all talked and answered questions from the audience during the event. 

Professor Harris, Professor of Environmental Technology at Cranfield Soil and Agrifood Institute, suggested using a ‘five capitals’ viewpoint to represent a whole-of-society approach to resilience, which includes natural, social, human, constructed, and financial capitals. 

We’ll never be able to appreciate the complexity of the system, the functions that emerge from it, and thus developing features, such as resilience, unless we analyze all of these things – and definitely in the context of the SDGs – and how they interact. 

The SDGs aim to guide us to where we want to be in the next 10 years or so, and while they’re divided into 17 goals, they’re all inextricably linked, making an integrated system that the UN considers from a social, economic, and environmental standpoint. To cover the five capitals, we must also include the human and built environments. 

On the one hand, obtaining one goal or aim may help with the achievement of other goals or targets, yet pursuing one goal or target may conflict with the achievement of another. Understanding the interconnections between the goals can help us determine where we should focus our efforts, as well as synergies and trade-offs. 

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